It feels a while since I have written but the past few weeks have been a detoxification of so much that I haven’t had the desire to sit and write so much. I had even prepared much of this post to quickly slip a post in in anticipation of lack of time to write.
For me, this is one of the best pieces of my husband’s work. It is more museum worthy than public art, most of the other work is ‘willing to grow’. This could be outside if cast in bronze but I do think this is one for a large indoor space. Yes, it is sinister, disturbing, intriguing… but in today’s modern contemporary art world where almost anything goes, sometimes you have to make a statement that will make the viewer stop. Look. Think.
The journey of this piece started last year and has continued to be one of ‘blood, sweat and tears’ . It was selected for the Hot one hundred so was in exhibition in London when it got pre-selected for the Threadneedle prize, which we were very excited about. So, we had a little bit of logistics and negotiation to get it from A to B. Having applied for the Threadneedle for the last two years and not been successful we were feeling fairly hopeful that this was a good sign. The piece seemed to fit the requirements, for example; “Work that possesses a life force of its own… work that has ‘that something’ which stops the viewer in their tracks.” Tim Shaw. Having got it to the Mall galleries and putting it amongst the other pre selected work my husband was still pretty optimistic about the next stage. So we waited for the Thursday announcement. On the Wednesday my husband got a call from them and though it could only be good news. It wasn’t. The reason for the early call was because it did need to be collected and the collection days were the same as the rather large cycle event happening in the London on the same day, could he go earlier to collect it. Needless to say, living so far away from London we couldn’t really go any other day and we also needed to drop some other work off at the Cork street gallery (just round the corner). So, my husband and his man with a van headed into London to the Mall galleries and Cork Street, to deliver work and to collect a rather hefty piece of art, at the same time as some 16,500 cyclist needed the very same road. I printed out maps of the gallery and the cycle routes, the roads which were closed and the roads which would be restricted. I didn’t think it looked possible.However, there was not a lot of choice off they went. I was rather expecting a call to say they hadn’t been able to get it.
Here is what happened; after successfully managing to deliver work at The Cork Street Gallery at 10am (not quite sure how they got there in such good time!) they circled around and realised they just couldn’t get the van to the entrance of the Mall Gallery. Pulling into a lay-by as the driver needed to go to the toilet, on finding a toilet my husband realised that they could see the entrance of the Mall gallery. They decided to walk to it to see how far it was but rather than being able to go straight across the road they were diverted because of the preparations for the crowds supporting the cyclists. On getting to the gallery the driver insisted that as they were there they ‘may as well’ carry the piece back. The images here do not show the glass box which my husband decided to exhibit it in. So, each carrying an edge of the box they walked the mile back to the van. Crowds now gathering, had to shift quickly once they realised two men were carry a glass box and not in fact just pushing their way through. Apparently, they got comments about ‘where the camera was’. I am not sure whether they did that before or after the actual ‘Toy’ which must have then caused another commotion, as though two art thieves were stealing in broad daylight. One way to advertise your work. They did it, they got the piece out but unfortunately not in the shortlisted Threadneedle.
The piece speaks about the 21st century, the society that we live in. It is representing the idea that you work hard and are not going anywhere, like a rocking horse. However long it rocks, it is simply moving back and forth, not moving forward. The black for the skeleton (it is not a real skeleton) shows that we are in a time when petrol has become more important than human life. As for the horse-tail, (it is real horse hair) this represents the way society keeps pushing you constantly to look after your health, going to the gym, good diet etc etc, and this is a similar technique for a horse race. It seems the horse that has constantly been looked after, good diet, great exercise goes to the race and wins makes the owner very rich. Hence the title, ‘The Toy’ for this concept presents us as having become a toy to our boss, to our society, to our media and to our routine, played with and somehow we believe that this is the normal life that we are supposed to have. People work 9 till 5, six days a week, sleep eight hours, have three-course meal, wish to live longer and will end up being in a nursing home, sitting down on a chair rocking thinking that you lived the life in full. This is an observation of the world through my husband’s art. When words can’t describe what he sees.